Burns, 64, was a deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and held a number of positions in the George W. Bush administration. He was also an ambassador to Jordan during the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Burns left the State Department in 2014 and didn’t serve in the Trump administration, spending time as the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Biden’s team described Burns as a career diplomat who is full of integrity.
“Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure. He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect,” Biden said in a statement.
“Ambassador Burns will bring the knowledge, judgment, and perspective we need to prevent and confront threats before they can reach our shores. The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA director.”
Biden’s selection came a few weeks after Melvin Goodman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a former CIA analyst, called for the Democrat to nominate Burns as CIA director.
“No director in the 73-year history of the CIA has come from the Department of State, yet senior foreign service officers have a deep understanding of the role and importance of both intelligence analysis at home and clandestine operations abroad. Naming a foreign service officer to head CIA would be groundbreaking and would contribute to reinvigorating the agency’s morale and competence,” Goodman wrote in an open letter, adding that Burns “would be confirmed easily” by the Senate.
Democrats will control the deadlocked Senate by virtue of the tiebreaking vote the vice president can cast. Few, if any, Democrats are expected to oppose Biden’s Cabinet nominees.
Burns would fill Biden’s final unannounced Cabinet or Cabinet-level position. Last week, Biden said he was nominating federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as secretary of labor, and Isabel Casillas Guzman as administrator of the Small Business Administration.